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    A Soldier's Refuge



    Story by Spc. Clevon Wright 

    367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    There are many men and women across the globe who have served in the nation’s military. Their stories and secrets are not forgotten but held within a fraternity of retired and Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors. They all share one thing in common, a service to protect the Constitution of the United States. Until this very day, these men and women at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9473 in Columbus, Ohio, and across the country, stand together with memories of selfless service to the community. One of the most respected act of service from members of the VFW is their participation in the Reynoldsburg Veterans Color Guard. On August 15, 2020, these brave men and women honored a deceased veteran and the family by performing a military funeral ceremony.
    This and many other acts of service and gratitude are performed by VFW members in ways that resemble ceremonies and creeds like the ones we may see in our nation's current military services. Jerry Van Norman, the current color guard captain for and a former sergeant in the Army, says the Army helped him become the man he is today. “Looking back, it wasn't a bad deal being a soldier in the Army,” Van Norman says. “The Army helped me grow up a lot, and I saw parts of the world that most people don’t get to see.”
    Jerry joined the VFW in Fort Carson, Colorado on a funeral detail on the color guard for the first time. When he continued to serve as a member of the color guard in Colorado, it hooked him to be more involved in the role as a member of the Reynoldsburg color guard. “Folding that flag and presenting it to the widow, was probably what hooked me to do the color guard,” said
    Van Norman. “And I determined right then and there that I would find a VFW when I moved from Colorado, that has a color guard to continue that honor.”
    VFW Post 9473 isn’t a place just solely about veterans coming together just for a drink. It isn’t about old warriors talking about what they had done in their time of service, nor is it about what is the next event the community has planned for itself. But, it’s a place where service men and women understand each other and humbly love each other. It’s a place where warriors, who are one of many voices in Congress, gather to improve their community, lean on each other for love and welcome the next veteran in with open arms no matter the age or branch of service.
    However, veterans who have fought for our country weren’t the only people who fought and defended the home front. Behind almost every service member is a spouse who is willing to handle and manage the community when need be. The spouses and children of service members
    are possibly the toughest sons, daughters, husbands and wives in the community. Changing duty stations, organizing family readiness groups and being the person responsible for the duties a service member leaves behind at home to serve the country.
    Susan Ashlaw, the auxiliary president for VFW 9473, believes the VFW is more than just a club for vets but a brother and sister hood for everyone. “The VFW means alot to me,” says Ashlaw. “I have been a soldier’s wife for 24 years and a soldier’s daughter for 20 years and the
    best thing to do in times like that is to volunteer and be a help to the community.” In the auxiliary they support veteran affairs, a drug and alcohol unit in Columbus, run events for organizations in Ohio and make full course breakfast and lunch for those communities, says Ashlaw. They are equivalent to the support groups of military members. They do the underdog, behind-the-scenes, dirty work, while other men and women of the VFW look to progress into expanding and innovating the club.
    “It’s an honor to be a part of this group of motivated, caring and dedicated men and women who took an oath for this country,” said Ashlaw. “These veterans have seen and done things people can’t comprehend and I solely believe that gives them a special meaning. To me that is the true meaning of a veteran, I tell them 'thank you' anywhere I go and see a veteran because their service and sacrifice is the thing I admire the most about them.”



    Date Taken: 10.01.2020
    Date Posted: 11.09.2020 10:52
    Story ID: 380545
    Location: REYNOLDSBURG, OH, US 

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